What is the best way of innovating for social change?
Monday, May 6, 2013
There are many different ways – organisationally speaking – that you can save the world. In previous generations, idealists who dreamt of ending poverty, cleaning up the environment or righting injustices started non-profits, went into government or joined religious organisations. Today, an increasing number are attracted to the idea of saving the world through business. The swelling ranks of socially minded students in our MBA classrooms is testament to the increasing interest in social entrepreneurship.
As business educators, we naturally see this as a good thing. The social sector needs entrepreneurs equipped with the frameworks and ideas that will help them to navigate the many trade-offs and challenges that exist in turning innovative ideas into great organisations, starting with the basic choice of whether organising as a business or a non-profit – or something else entirely – is best suited to serving their chosen mission.
Better-managed organisations of all sorts achieve their objectives more effectively. In a for-profit context this has been compellingly illustrated by a Stanford-World Bank study where a “management makeover” was randomly assigned to a subgroup of Indian textile manufacturers – the cost of paying Accenture to improve management quality quickly paid for itself.